Meet Aisscha Rivera, a twenty-one-year-old from Lajas, Puerto Rico. Aisscha, like our hero Dante of DANTE’S KISS, feels like she doesn’t always fit in with Puerto Rican society but finds her way in the world through books, Buddhism, and the martial arts. Read on as Aisscha shares her thoughts.
SN: Describe yourself, first as you see yourself, and then as you think others see you.
AR: Honestly, I haven’t found one single word to describe me fully. People tend to describe me most of the time as reserved, quiet, or shy. A small percentage of people may describe me as sweet, caring, respectful and maybe even strong.
SN: What has it been like for you growing up in Puerto Rico? Do you fit in with the rest of society, or do you feel like an outsider?
AR: Puerto Rico is my identity; it’s what runs through my veins; that mix of Taíno, African and Spanish blood. I love Puerto Rico, don’t get me wrong, but I have always felt like an outsider. Whether it’s because of my music and fashion likes or the way I live, Puerto Rican society has always made me feel restrained. And when I try to show who I really am, it’s as if everyone takes me for granted or, in simple English, pushes me away.
SN: In the novel DANTE’S KISS, with which character did you most identify with and why?
AR: In the novel, I feel a connection with Dante, not only because of his unique name (like mine) but also because of the way he is: wanting to “fit in,” looking for ways to defend himself, being madly in love in the teen years, and expressing himself through a type of art. Also, Kiriela is the good side of me while Jadiel is (in a way) my alter ego … I’m not saying that I’m a bad influence, but at some points in my teen years, I was a rebel child and well, I’m still so-so in the rebellious department!
SN: Do you prefer to read in Spanish or in English?
I love reading in both languages! But here’s the thing, if I start reading a novel or a series of books in one or the other language, I must finish the book in the same language. Some stories lose their essence in the process of translation.
SN: What is your favorite book and why?
AR: This is a hard one! I’ll go with THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton. The reason why I love this book so much is because I can identify with the social aspect of being either accepted or rejected by the people around you. The emotions evoked by these teens are mind blowing to the point where it makes you question how hard these teen years actually are.
SN: What emotions ran through you as you were reading DANTE’S KISS?
AR: Can I just say that I went back to my teenage years? It was amazing how this book made me go through everything I felt at that time in my life. I felt love, anger, jealousy, etc. I felt the need to protect Dante the way I wanted to be protected at that time.
SN: What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?
AR: Many things inspire me, many things spark my imagination; but my biggest source of inspiration in life is my “Life Philosophy,” which is a 50% Buddhism and 50% Martial Arts lifestyle. This lifestyle brings me peace, clarity and inspires me to give the best of me and through it I have discovered my strength.
SN: What hurts you most in the world?
AR: Beside unfairness, lies, gossip, broken trusts, the winner is conflict. Like in English class when the teacher asks you the types of conflict the main character can have, it all boils down to Person vs. Person. It hurts me to see how people give up on themselves, to see how they don’t love themselves enough to say no to things or yes, to speak up or stand up for themselves.
SN: What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced as a young adult?
AR: So far, it’s independence. I still don’t know what independence is and I know why I’m having trouble with this, but I guess that I’m having problems like any other young adult.
SN: If you could live one day as another person, who would that person be and why?
AR: I would definitely live as Shakira, what’s not to love about her? Her knowledge, her passion for music and dance, her organization in Colombia named Pies Descalzos… This woman is the epitome of what I want to achieve in my life!
SN: What’s the last song you listened to from your music library?
AR: “Believe” by the amazing and iconic superstar Cher.
SN: Finish the sentence, I most want my father/mother/parents to understand that …
AR: I’m a strong woman…